Saturday, June 30, 2007

A Piece of Wisdom I Found Today

Thank you to the poster in Toronto.

From the Best of Craigslist:

re:young killers
Date: 2007-05-28, 9:54AM EDT

Is some young homeboy punk the real problem? Where are the parents? I mean really? Whose raising these kids?

If my son came home talking about shoot em up and bitches and hoes, I'm not saying to my self "awwww, it's just a phase" I'm taking the little punk, I'm taking away his "gangsta" clothes and his gangster music and seein' how cool his homeboys figure he is without his bling.

That doesn't work...well then I'm moving, and I don't mean a 30 minute bus ride away so the homies can reunite, I'm talking AWAY. Far away.

"Oh, but my job/house/friends/etc"

F@ck it. This is your kid. This is your blood. Nothing is more important then teaching them now. When they're young.

I know. I was a punk. A pretty bad one too. Ya I got the beats for being bad. Got juvie for being bad. Got yelled at, thrown out whatever you can name. None of it helped because at the end of the day, no matter what the punishment, I was thrown back into the pack of wolves. And in that pack, the punishments just increased my rank. Made me "cooler".

If someone removed my dumb ass from the situation and actually took some time to teach me what being a man was all about, it might not have took me so long to figure it all out.

I know, I'm gonna get blasted. How dare I blame the parents, right? Well, who the hell else is supposed to be installing values, morals, self respect and honor in our kids?

I go to the playground everyday with my kid. Every kid there knows my name, and no, it's not because I'm so cool. It's because day in and day out, I'm the only parent there. Surrounded by kids as young as 7 who are absolutely starving for adult attention. Starving for someone to say this is right and this is wrong. This is how you throw a football, this is how you ride a bike,or no, you don't talk like that or hit girls or a million other things.

How can we expect our children to do well in life if we're passing the buck of raising them to tv trash, video games, overworked teachers with way to many kids and ofcourse our favorite...rap stars. (Ya I know, your rant about it being just music. Murder, rape, drugs, crime, violence etc is not "just music".)

So call me whatever you want, I'm the last guy to have love for the "gangsta's". But keep in mind, they were all born innocent. If a huge portion of the young population are turning bad it's not because there's something in the water. It's because we're failing, and it's up to us to stop it.
Put down the remote/keyboard/phone/whatever. Get off the couch or out of the office. Stop taking all that "time for yourself you so desperately need" and go outside and spend some time with your kids.

I know you're tired. Deal with it.

I know it's been a long day. Deal with it.

I know they want to be left alone. Make them deal with it.

The day you became a parent you stopped being number one. Your wants and desires are insignificant to the task at hand. You'll have time to deal with that in eighteen years when you've lived up to your responsibilities. The most important thing in your life is your child. So suck it up, stop all the bullsh*t excuses and get out there and be a parent.

Oh, and this is a rant...not an argument. I'm not going to be rebutting anyone who calls me an idiot or wants to fight just to fight. It is a rant. It is what I feel and believe in my heart, plain and simple.

Love your kids, the "bad" ones need it the most.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Me Ven Asi?

While it has not been widely known, the first Puerto Rican migrants to the U.S. were deeply concerned with their depiction in the media. Through a wide network of civic, cultural and political organizations, these pioneros confronted discrimination. In 1940, Scribner's Commentator ran an article entitled "Welcome Paupers and Crime: Puerto Rico's Shocking Gift to the U.S.," which said,

"…all Puerto Ricans were totally lacking in moral values, which is why none of them seemed to mind wallowing in the most abject moral degradation."

While forty Puerto Rican organizations, including the Asociación de Escritores y Periodistas Puertoriqueño, organized against this article (Bernardo Vega, p. 203), seven years later the World Telegram ran a series of equally vitriolic articles. This too was met with a vociferous demonstration and picket line that stretched for several blocks (Bernardo Vega, p. 231).

~ excerpted from Puerto Rican Cinema in New York: from the margin to the center by Lillian Jiménez

Ha ha ha. Ha ha. Ha.

Hrm. Not funny.

I am doing a little web research about Puerto Rican cinema and I come across this article. I have also been reading a modern history of Latinos simply titled, Latinos.

After finishing the Kite Runner I ran to the next book to find a sense of self and of place and to have an "academic" perspective on Puerto Rico. Culture is very different when written in academic terms than when sat down to a meal, dancing to music, or addressing one's family. It's foreign and strange to read of one's culture as schizophrenic and impure.

Sera una borica? Is is a Puerto Rican who is writing this?

One must always read with a critical eye, clearly.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Today's Best Quote

I like the bilingual girls, because 2 tongues is better than one, you know what I am saying... - Ajay Naidu (He was that dude from Office Space.)

Dude, as a bilingual girl, it's nice to get a shoutout! Woot!

Activism Wednesday
Hey, man! Do you like to listen to your favourite station on your mobile device or via that Internet thing?

Apparently there's action to change the revenue model for our online radio stations. Knowing they don't always have the pocketbooks that larger media outlets have that might mean they are squeezed out of the playing field.

Personally, I don't want my internet choices to be whittled down the way my FM radio has been over the last 15 years...where I feel sequestered to one part of the dial and about 4 stations (NPR, Classical, Jazz, Fun Dance Pop) because the rest of the dial has become so homogenized.

We, the 'Net generation, can vote with our (online) access! So save the Pandoras, Lastfms,'s of the world.

Find out more! Make thine choice! Contact thine representatives!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

This Goes Out to All of Those Condescending People Who "Admire" What I Do

I just discovered Taylor Mali about 3 minutes ago.

His sentiments mirror the depths of the caverns of my mind when people ask me why I don't just change jobs and make more money because social benefit work doesn't and may never pay. It has SUCH a condescending tone and it drives me INSANE.

I think to myself,

"Yeah. And any business with a bottom line that puts profit over people does. And there's a HELL of a lot of them.

There are SWATHS of sectors that didn't even START OUT making money to begin with that do that.

I'm glad you're traveling to (hip "ethnic" "out of the way" "servile and gracious population" destination) next week.

Maybe you'll donate some money at some benefit so long as it serves alcohol to offset your carbon emissions...or share with your pal at your next champagne club meeting about how Bono and Bob Geldof really made a moving speech about societies with privilidge CAUSING and ignoring the plight in Africa or bust some rhymes from that SICK hip hop album you adore by Taleb Kwali..."

It's not as easy as that for me.

Call me sensitive.

Here's the poem. Watch the video. Be inspired.

"I make a difference. How about you?"


What Teachers Make, or
Objection Overruled, or
If things don't work out, you can always go to law school

By Taylor Mali

He says the problem with teachers is, "What's a kid going to learn
from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?"
He reminds the other dinner guests that it's true what they say about
Those who can, do; those who can't, teach.

I decide to bite my tongue instead of his
and resist the urge to remind the other dinner guests
that it's also true what they say about lawyers.

Because we're eating, after all, and this is polite company.

"I mean, you¹re a teacher, Taylor," he says.
"Be honest. What do you make?"

And I wish he hadn't done that
(asked me to be honest)
because, you see, I have a policy
about honesty and ass-kicking:
if you ask for it, then I have to let you have it.

You want to know what I make?

I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.
I can make a C+ feel like a Congressional medal of honor
and an A- feel like a slap in the face.
How dare you waste my time with anything less than your very best.

I make kids sit through 40 minutes of study hall
in absolute silence. No, you may not work in groups.
No, you may not ask a question.
Why won't I let you get a drink of water?
Because you're not thirsty, you're bored, that's why.

I make parents tremble in fear when I call home:
I hope I haven't called at a bad time,
I just wanted to talk to you about something Billy said today.
Billy said, "Leave the kid alone. I still cry sometimes, don't you?"
And it was the noblest act of courage I have ever seen.

I make parents see their children for who they are
and what they can be.

You want to know what I make?

I make kids wonder,
I make them question.
I make them criticize.
I make them apologize and mean it.
I make them write, write, write.
And then I make them read.
I make them spell definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful, definitely
over and over and over again until they will never misspell
either one of those words again.
I make them show all their work in math.
And hide it on their final drafts in English.
I make them understand that if you got this (brains)
then you follow this (heart) and if someone ever tries to judge you
by what you make, you give them this (the finger).

Let me break it down for you, so you know what I say is true:
I make a difference! What about you?

Thursday, June 7, 2007

P.S. G-d did take care of me

Found a parking space. =)

It was a beautiful day in San Francisco.

I walked along the Embarcadero to meet my coworkers.

Enjoyed a celebratory year-end lunch with my coworkers.


Because I did manage a little faith from my anxiety.


G-d will take care of me.

So this is me: 1 week til payday and about 2 dollars to my name. I have been weaning myself off the cash advances, but that has meant that I have been negative in my bank account every two weeks for the entirety of 2007.

I took a $1500 paycut to make this professional move.

That's the $1500 bucks I saved of vacation time from my previous employer.

And that melted away as soon as the stolen car drama started in September.

For the most part I have eaten. A little thinly lately, but I have eaten. It's why I didn't run last week. You can't train on just rice and beans. Running has meant I eat more often, which bumps up the cost of food. I have paid my rent. I have met my basic needs.

Today I am a little scared. I am not sure how I will get to work over the next week, but I am sure that it will happen. But I am not in the deep depression of despair.
That's good.

I know that I will welcome my raise come review time in September. I know that my expenses will go down in the summer when I am not driving to four diffent schools and paying $4 a day to cross the bridge.

But today I have that "I am not so sure" feeling in my gut. Today I don't know what the next week will be like.

I know that I will eat. And I know G-d will take care of me.

Today I just have doubt.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

I F-ing Am Challenged By My Job Today

Do you remember when you didn't know how to walk?

Your guardians didn't give up on you. They encouraged you as you stumbled through your steps. It was probably documented.

I feel that working with my last set of students is like working with people I expect to know how to walk but they don't. And my job over the past two weeks has been to teach them how to walk first for the inevitable job of teaching them how to dance.

If they aren't even walking, how can I expect to teach them to dance?

EVERYONE can be taught. Every single person. The luxury of adult life is having an open class schedule. Life lessons are not necessarily from school bell to school bell. And you don't need one skill to build upon another. Sometimes you are your own teacher. Sometimes the world is your teacher. Rarely do you sit in rows and wait for the instruction to be given "Learn this now."

I am working with students who can barely write, let alone barely write a sentence. Getting them to put their heading on their work is a chore. Following instructions such as: "Sit down, don't touch your neighbor, make sure to have your pencil..." is a daily routine.

I feel like my soul is getting sucked out of me repeating these basic tasks.

These students are supposedly college-bound. But they are huffy, they give up so easily because something is "hard" and they act out.

Grant it, I don't know what they're coming to school with...emotionally, physically, spiritually.

I know it's hard to focus on history at the end of the day and schoolyear if things are not stable at home.

I am trying to remember this. I am trying to remember that it's not my job to teach them digital storytelling as it is my job to be a communicator and someone they can practice communication with.

So when I get the pouty 10 year old who is giving me the silent treatment or playing tag in a classroom of $50,000 worth of equipment (some of which they have already broken) or I have to ask repeatedly to whisper to your partner instead of calling across the room I need to have the humility to think that they are practicing these skills. They clearly don't have them yet which is why they can't sit still for 2 minutes or why they forget within 30 seconds of you teaching what they need to do.

If I had them for 2 hours we could iron out the rough spots and then move on to more sophisticated things such as independent work time and guidance.

But for the last week I've felt bogged down by disrespectful 5th graders who seem to not have self-control.

There are a few rays of sunshine who work independently and are patient.

And a good majority of them address me with a friendly "Hi, Miss Ishkabibble" outside of class and then come and hug me. I kiss them on the side of the face and hug them.

I do love them.

But I am not sure if I can parent one of them effectively if I am feeling demoralized after only 3 weeks with them at my "hard core" school.

How does that Serenity Prayer go again?

Monday, June 4, 2007

It's all in how you look at it...

Checking out the BBC Sports page today I read an article for the 2012 London Olympics logo. I have to admit, I'm a little underwhelmed.

It's kinda avant garde 80s. I could see a Wham! style sweatshirt with this on it. But just like every other piece of Olympic tchotchke, is it meant to be immemorable?